17 Things You Should Know Before Starting the Atkins Diet – Delish

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Should ‘New Year’ mean ‘new low-carb you’?
Way back in November, I tried the Atkins

diet that Kim Kardashian followed to lose her baby weight in an attempt to see if it was even doable, and I survived. Not only that, but in one week I lost a whopping 3 pounds — and went immediately back to my old ways. Now that "New Year, new me" season is upon us, here are some facts on the diet for anyone looking to make a similar (albeit maybe not so Kardashian-esque or temporary) transformation.
Though Atkins began in 1972 when Robert C. Atkins released his book, Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution, it didn’t become crazy popular until the early 2000s, when he released his second book.
According to a New York Times article, the doughnut giant blamed Atkins and other low-carb diets like it for a huge drop in sales. The pasta industry was also in hot water (no pun intended) at the height of the Atkins craze, NPR reported—pasta sales were down by as much as 10 percent. It wasn’t until Atkins filed for bankruptcy—due to decreasing popularity—that it seemed carbs were king again and pasta makers were safe.
Atkins works by reducing sugar and carbs (which later turn into sugar) so that the body doesn’t burn these for fuel but burns fat instead. In that sense, you’re counting your net carb intake—AKA, those bites of bread and pasta you just can’t resist—rather than count calories.
If you follow Atkins, there are 2 plans to choose from: Atkins 20 and Atkins 40. With Atkins 20, you start by eating only 20 net carbs per day and eventually add more carbs (and food options) as you move through its four phases. This plan is recommended for people who have 40 or more pounds to lose.
With Atkins 40 you can eat, you guessed it, 40 net carbs per day. With this plan you eat three meals and two snacks per day, and you have way more food options. This option is good for people who have less than 40 pounds to lose, are breast feeding, or just need a little more variety in their meals.
A diet that lets you eat cheese? Yup, it exists. Atkins advocates eating both dairy and healthy fats, so you can keep munching on that fancy brie, or have yourself a little pat of butter—no problem (as long as you account for the net carbs, of course).
Atkins is big on protein with every meal. In fact, at three 4- to 6-ounce servings on Atkins 40, it’s a large part of your daily food intake. The good news is you can get your protein from lots of places, including eggs, poultry, seafood, buffalo (hmmm), and even bacon.
Unfortunately, alcohol is not a part of either Atkins 20 or 40. Though the occasional glass of wine is no biggie, alcohol consumption slows down weight loss, so if you’re really looking to lose weight, you should avoid drinking a whole bottle. Approved alcohols include: wine, rye, scotch, vodka, and gin—but lose the juice, tonic water, and non-diet soda, they’ll add unwanted carbs and ruin your hard work.
Atkins is an EOD (Equal Opportunity Diet) so non-meat eaters can follow the food plan by getting their protein from eggs, cheese, and soy products. Vegans can eat seeds, nuts, soy products, soy and rice cheeses, and high-protein grains like quinoa.
Atkins recently released a hip new version of its diet plan called Eco-Atkins. The new diet focuses on getting 31 percent of calories from plant proteins, 43 percent from plant fats and 26 percent from plant carbs, so basically this is the diet for vegetarians. US News & World Report ranked the diet 20 out of 38 in best diets overall, No. 5 in best fast weight loss diets, and 8 in best plant-based diets. Unfortunately, there’s little guidance on the diet (it doesn’t even have an online presence), making it kind of hard to follow.
Let’s be real: Frozen meals are def not the most appetizing thing in the world, but they do cut out the math of having to calculate net carbs yourself (they’re printed on the box), and they’re fast. Atkins has a variety of frozen meals, including breakfast options, a range of American options, and even global choices. My recommendation? Try the beef merlot or meatloaf—they’re bomb. However, save yourself the disappointment and steer clear of the chicken options.
If you prefer to cook your own meals, Atkins also has a lot of easy recipes on the brand’s website that are actually good, and help you keep track of your net carbs. My favorite was the cauli mac and cheese (no, it didn’t actually have pasta) because that cheese sauce was insane.
Not into frozen, but also not into cooking? That’s cool. If you’ve got the cash, you can get fresh Atkins meals delivered to you. You can subscribe and get a personalized meal plan, or order a la carte.
Atkins wouldn’t make it in the 21st century if it didn’t have a carb-counting app. The app functions like most others of its kind, but in addition to having the nutrition info for basically every grocery item on the planet, it includes data for Atkins products and recipes. So basically, you just type in words and never actually have to do math to figure out your carb intake, making dieting a no-brainer.
If you’re dieting, it means you’re most likely really changing your eating habits, and that’s obviously not going to be easy. According to the Mayo Clinic, people on Atkins tend to have initial side effects, including headaches, dizziness, weakness, fatigue and constipation. Of course, these side effects might occur with any diet, so it really is up to you: Is the gain worth the pain?
Atkins marketing never fails to mention that aside from helping to lose weight, the diet plan also reduces risk for heart disease and diabetes. But as the Mayo Clinic points out, that may be a result of better eating that you would see with any diet — not just Atkins.
Part of the reason why some doctors were initially skeptical of Atkins is because at first, it advocated eating cheese, meats, and fats liberally. Since then, the diet has undergone some changes, namely advocating for more moderation in dining on meat and dairy. Some experts are still not entirely convinced about a high-fat and protein diet, but little extensive research has been done.
Many stars have been rumored to use Atkins to maintain their weight. Among them are Robbie Williams, Jennifer Aniston, and Catherine Zeta Jones, though The Mask of Zorro actress threatened to sue anyone who associated her with the diet. But two high-profile celebs, Kim Kardashian and Alyssa Milano, are confirmed believers.
Atkins, by virtue of making you eat fresh, non-processed food, is a pricey diet to maintain. When I had to buy all my food fresh and skip the occasional Wendy’s or Chipotle bowl, my grocery bill nearly tripled, jumping to $135 for one week of food, as opposed to my usual $50.
And I’m not alone. According to a Forbes article that compared the costs of following different diet meal plans, the Atkins diet meals came out to an average of $100.52 per week, 84.6 percent more than the national average spent on weekly groceries. Atkins may be less than other weight-loss alternatives, like a new treadmill or surgery, but it will definitely run up a hefty bill.
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